Tracking Sales and Submissions using Collection Sets in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

December 02, 2010 | | Comments 11

Screenshot of Collections and Collection Sets in Adobe Photoshop LightroomTracking sales and editorial submissions are part of the business of professional photography. As a working artist, I need to keep accurate records about where my images have been published. Tracking the images that were submitted to a client, but not selected for publication, is also important. Tracking the reject images, and the successes, is a great way to learn more about what other’s see in your photography. If you are clever, this can keep you from sending the same rejected photographs to the same editor again and again.

Tracking sales and submissions requires a “private” note taking method. Keywords, and other metadata fields, are not the ideal tools for this sort of activity because these fields are “public.” An image’s metadata is readable by anyone who has access to the file unless this data has been intentionally removed. My keywords, and other descriptive metadata entries, are important information that I do not want to strip out. I need the metadata so that I can find my files in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and so that my client’s can understand my photograph’s content and context.

Typing words like “previously published in X magazine for $1″ into my file’s metadata is a bad idea! I need to keep track of the sale but I want to keep these details private. They need to be private information since I often submit, and hopefully sell, the same image to multiple clients. If my client knows that the image they want has been used before, or worse they know how much I was paid for that usage, what room do I have now to negotiate a better price?

I’m an honest man and I am proud of my reputation. My landscape and sports photography has appeared in more than twenty publications. If an editor ask about an image’s history then I will gladly tell them exactly where and when it was used. If the client doesn’t ask though why should I needlessly share this information? If they do ask then my precise record keeping helps me to answer the prospective client’s question honestly. Being able to tell an editor exactly where, and when, an image was used is a lot more professional then saying “oh, that photo has been published before but I can’t remember how many times or who used it.”

So, how to track sales and submissions without putting undesirable information into each file’s metadata? My solution to this problem is to use Collections and Collection Sets inside of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Collections and collections sets are an incredible organizational tool for the professional photographer and they are completely private!

Collections, and Collection Sets, are private data because they exist only within your Lightroom Catalog. Collections are marked in your .lrcat file only so they have no impact on your file’s metadata. This makes them the perfect tool for grouping images together to make a submission and for tracking the end results. In this video tutorial, I demonstrate the whole magazine submission process while answering a “photo call” from the Big Sky Journal magazine. Check it out….

Tracking Sales and Submissions using Collection Sets in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom from David Marx on Vimeo.

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Filed Under: (04) Organizing with LightroomAdobe Photoshop Lightroom Tutorials


About the Author: David Marx is a digital photography instructor whose engaging teaching style inspires photographers of all skill levels. David is an Adobe Certified Lightroom Expert. To learn more about David's Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software training seminars and digital photography field workshops please visit or follow David Marx on Google+.